Drunken driving declines less among some ethnic groups

February 23, 1999|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Drunken-driving fatalities are dropping steadily nationwide, but not as quickly for Native Americans and some Hispanic Americans as for other ethnic groups, a new study has found.

The study, commissioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and unveiled yesterday at a forum in Miami on traffic-safety issues among minorities, showed that from 1990 through 1994, alcohol-related fatalities among Native Americans dropped just 4 percent and among Mexican-Americans by 6 percent.

Over the same period, drunken-driving deaths declined 10 percent among African-Americans and 9 percent among whites.

"It's clear that the message about drinking and driving has been getting through, but the question is why the decline isn't so great in some communities," said Jim Fell, NHTSA's chief of research and evaluation.

The research marks the first ethnic-specific study of impaired driving and seat-belt use nationwide.

"What we ask now is what needs to be done to get the message to everybody. How can we make inroads where we haven't before?" he said.

"Are we not using the right messages in some communities?"

Pub Date: 2/23/99

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